I observed an Arab who was informing his son:—“O my child, God will ask thee on the day of judgment: What hast thou done in this life? but he will not inquire of thee: Whence didst thou derive thy origin?” That is, they (or God) will ask, saying: “What are your works?” But he will not question you, saying: “Who is your father?” The covering of the Caabah at Mecca, which the pilgrims kiss from devotion, is not prized from its being the fabric of a silk-worm; for a while it associated with a venerable friend, and became, in consequence, venerable like him.
They have related in the books of philosophers that scorpions are not brought forth according to the common course of nature, as other animals are, but that they eat their way through their mother’s wombs, tear open their bellies, and thus make themselves a passage into the world; and that the fragments of skin which we find in scorpions’ holes corroborate this fact. On one occasion I was stating this strange event to a good and great man, when he answered: “My heart is bearing testimony to the truth of this remark; nor can it be otherwise, for as they have thus behaved towards their parents in their youth, so they are approved and beloved in their riper years.” On his death-bed a father exhorted his son, saying: “O generous youth, keep in mind this maxim: ’Whoever is ungrateful to his own kindred cannot hope that fortune shall befriend him.’”
They asked a scorpion: “Why do you not make your appearance during the winter?” It answered: “What is my character in the summer that I should come abroad also in the winter?”
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One year a dissension arose among the foot-travellers on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and the author (Sa’di) was also a pedestrian among them. In truth, we fell head and ears together, and accusation and recrimination were bandied from all sides. I overheard a kajawah, or gentleman, riding on one side of a camel-litter, observing to his adil, or opposite companion: “How strange that the ivory piyadah, or pawns, on reaching the top of the shatranj, or chess-board, become fazzin, or queens; that is, they get rank, or become better than they were; and the piyadah, or pawns, of the pilgrimage—that is, our foot-pilgrims—have crossed the desert and become worse.” Say from me to that haji, or pilgrim, the pest of his fellow-pilgrims, that he lacerates the skin of mankind by his contention. Thou art not a real pilgrim, but that meek camel is one who is feeding on thorns and patient under its burden.
A Hindu, or Indian, was teaching the art of playing off fireworks. A philosopher observed to him: “This is an unfit sport for you, whose dwelling is made of straw.” Utter not a word till thou knowest that it is the mirror of what is correct; and do not put a question where thou knowest that the answer must be unfavorable.